Many studies have employed voxel-based morphometry (VBM) of MRI images as an automated method of investigating cortical gray matter differences in schizophrenia. However, results from these studies vary widely, likely due to different methodological or statistical approaches.
To use VBM to investigate gray matter differences in schizophrenia in a sample significantly larger than any published to date, and to increase statistical power sufficiently to reveal differences missed in smaller analyses.
Magnetic resonance whole brain images were acquired from four geographic sites, all using the same model 1.5T scanner and software version, and combined to form a sample of 200 patients with both first episode and chronic schizophrenia and 200 healthy controls, matched for age, gender and scanner location. Gray matter concentration was assessed and compared using optimized VBM.
Compared to the healthy controls, schizophrenia patients showed significantly less gray matter concentration in multiple cortical and subcortical regions, some previously unreported. Overall, we found lower concentrations of gray matter in regions identified in prior studies, most of which reported only subsets of the affected areas.
Gray matter differences in schizophrenia are most comprehensively elucidated using a large, diverse and representative sample.
Keywords: Schizophrenia, Structural MRI, multi-site, voxel based morphometry, gray matter